News 12 at 6 o'clock / November 15, 2013
AIKEN, SC (WRDW)
"The IRS is not going to call you and tell you that you owe money. They are going to send you a certified letter. They are going to send you something in the mail first," says Lieutenant Karl Odenthal with Aiken's Department of Public Safety.
An Aiken woman was baited into the scam after getting a phone call.
According to the incident report the person on the phone claimed to work for the IRS and told the victim she owed $1,900 in taxes and needed to pay it in 30 minutes or go to jail. She drove to the Bank of America at Aiken Mall to get the funds.
"A teller recognized it for the scam it is," says Odenthal. According to the incident report, the victim was very upset, frantic and continued to withdraw the money in fear that she was going to jail. If not for the teller's quick thinking, Odenthal says it could have ended badly.
"In the state of panic she was in she may have very well turned that money over," says Odenthal.
The victim says she was also told to meet a "Kenneth Webster" with the IRS outside the Fred's Store on Whiskey Road, a store that does not even exist anymore. Investigators believe that is when the victim would have been instructed to wire the money.
"Once it's Western Unioned to another area it's gone," says Odenthal. He says that is what makes investigating these types of cases a challenge.
"There is a big challenge in terms of local law enforcement. Say the number originated out of California, it is not practical for us to try to go to California to track that individual down," says Odenthal.
We called the number and told the caller we were with News 12. The person on the other end used a two-worded expletive and hung up.
Meanwhile the area code is in California but investigators say they believe the scammers could be operating just about anywhere including overseas